JUST about every major sporting event has been stopped in its tracks globally, with the lock down continuing on Tuesday as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc.
The Namibia Football Association on Tuesday afternoon withdrew the Brave Warriors from next month’s African Nations Championship finals due to the global contagion.
We have enough evidence and advice to arrive at our decision to withdraw from the Chan finals and suspend all football activities under our jurisdiction. Going forward, we shall continue to liaise with stakeholders in assessing the situationacting NFA secretary general Franco Cosmos
The tournament itself had not been called off by the time of going to print on Tuesday, with the Confederation of African Football still assessing the situation in host nation Cameroon. Holders Morocco, who eliminated Namibia at the quarter-final stage in the 2018 edition, will reportedly also not be defending their title.
“We have enough evidence and advice to arrive at our decision to withdraw from the Chan finals and suspend all football activities under our jurisdiction. Going forward, we shall continue to liaise with stakeholders in assessing the situation,” acting NFA secretary general Franco Cosmos told the FA’s website.
Earlier on Tuesday, Netball Namibia joined the list of sport codes whose plans have been thrown in disarray.
NN confirmed it had suspended all scheduled activities which include The Namibian Newspaper Cup, National Youth Games and all regional netball events.
Namibia will also not be part of the 2021 Netball World Youth Cup qualifiers set for Uganda in May, while the annual international Debmarine Namibia Pent Series in July are also called off.
Likewise, Harry Simon Jr will not be fighting South African Jabulani Mackensie in Johannesburg on Saturday after the fight was “indefinitely postponed” as part of Covid-19 containment measures.
The undefeated Simon Jr was due to contest for the WBA Pan Africa and IBF International title junior welterweight titles but will now wait on a new date, the MTC Nestor Sunshine Promotions stable said on Tuesday.
“Netball Namibia would like to discourage mass netball gatherings and no such events will be allowed during this period until 14 April 2020. We will be guided by government restrictions and NN together with stakeholders will continue to monitor the situation and advise accordingly,” NN president Lydia Mutenda said in statement on Tuesday.
Simon Jr’s camp said they “cannot compromise the health and safety of the boxing public”, hence the decision, in agreement with their partners, to comply with government’s recommendation.
The sports ministry on Monday barred Namibian athletes from international participation; and that all stadia and youth hostels be closed for 30 days.
Large scale training sessions are also banned.
At present, no-one knows how long the lock down will last. What is certain is that the indefinite pause in training, games and tournaments promises to upset the rhythms of countless athletes and deal a significant blow to the sports economy.
“We are in uncharted territory were everything we have planned goes out the window. We have no idea if it will get better and how soon,” athletics and fitness coach Letu Hamhola told The Namibian Sports on Tuesday.
“Worst of all, we started training last year and have been on a four year plan. In athletics, one week or I don’t even want to think of one month of no competition, and normal training can be catastrophic,” he said of the performance blueprints which have been rendered useless.
Meanwhile, professional sports are working on collective bargaining agreements that could free bosses from paying athletes a percentage of their salaries should the rest of the season be lost to the coronavirus pandemic, ESPN reported.
Sport is usually a constant – a field, court, track or course that is resistant to the vicissitudes of the world around us. But it has become intrinsically interwoven with the coronavirus – infecting a number of athletes and forcing fixtures to be postponed or cancelled, CNN sports anchor Don Riddell wrote in a recent opinion piece.
“Professional sports is a global industry, worth billions of dollars. The athletes are the strongest of all of us, but the whole show has been slowly grinding to a halt. Watching these massive events toppled by a virus has been a sobering experience – with every new update there’s a creeping sense of foreboding,” Riddell said.
Like CNN, South African news outlet Daily Maverick said the usually resilient world of sports is not immune to coronavirus.
“For a short while to most South Africans, coronavirus seemed like a problem happening somewhere far, far away. It was not a South African issue. That view and the false sense of security have changed dramatically in the past week,” the report said.
Namibia can relate. While football in the country has been at a standstill for months due to politics of the belly, other codes have been plunged into chaos over the escalating health crisis.
“Especially, if athletes are still chasing [Olympic] qualifying standards which are very hard [to attain] anyway,” said Hamhola.
“However, we have to adapt as the health of the athletes come first.
“The paralympic athletes were to have an important qualifying competition in Port Elizabeth over the coming weekend in the Toyota National Championships for physically disabled, that’s out the window. However, we will continue to educate and keep the athletes safe because life is too valuable,” he said.